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Marion S. Whelan School of Practical Nursing celebrates 86th commencement

The Marion S. Whelan School of Practical Nursing (MSWSPN) celebrated their 86th graduating class on June 17, 2021 at Kings Catering & Party House. The class of six students is now eligible to take their Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) exam. Graduates include Heather Beasley (Shortsville), Shelby Betts (Seneca Falls), Breighanne Christensen (Farmington), Shaquana Jones (West Monroe), Lindsay Stiles (Victor) and Hailey Willis (Canandaigua).

Kathleen Mills, MS, RN, Director welcomed students to the commencement and gave the Director’s Address. Dr. Jose Acevedo, President & CEO of Finger Lakes Health and President, Finger Lakes Health College of Nursing & Health Sciences, gave the President’s Address.

Philip Beckley, Chair, Finger Lakes Health Board of Directors, Jose Acevedo, M.D. and Ardelle Bigos, MS, RN, CMSRN, NE-BC, Finger Lakes Health’s Chief Nursing Officer presented the diplomas and pins to the graduates.

DiSanto Propane (Billboard)

Deanna Mills, MS, RN, Program Coordinator and Nichole McDermott, MS, RN, CNE presented the special awards.

The Catherine J. Loudin Achievement Award is given to the graduate practical nurse most exemplifying the values of Finger Lakes Health during his or her educational training. This year’s award goes to Lindsey Stiles.

The Alice Bergstresser Memorial Award is given to the graduate practical nurse who exemplifies the characteristics Alice portrayed in her everyday living; namely, determination, dedication and compassion. Heather Beasley was honored with this award.

Hailey Willis was recognized with the Fidelia Harmon Memorial Award for highest academic achievement in the nursing program.

Hailey Willis received the Marion S. Whelan Memorial Award, given to a graduate practical nurse who so well exemplifies the characteristics of dedication to nursing and self-discipline which were not only a part of Miss Whelan’s life but are exemplified every day in the professionalism and dedication shown by the nurses in the Finger Lakes Health Education Department and throughout the organization.

DiSanto Propane (Billboard)

Breighanne Christensen was awarded the MSWSPN Service Award given for outstanding service in medical/surgical nursing.

The Practical Nursing Student Determination Award was established by Carl Belawske, a Finger Lakes Health employee who knows firsthand the perseverance needed to complete an educational program. The recipient is a graduate who, despite challenges both in and out of the classroom, has overcome them with the determination and grit to excel. We are proud to recognize the drive, passion and tenacity to succeed of Shelby Betts with this award.

Shaquana Jones received the Advocate Award, given to the given to the graduate practical nurse who has shown the qualities most important to healthcare delivery; caring, quality, professionalism and passion.

Photos from the event can be viewed on Flickr and accessed from Finger Lakes Health’s website at

The Marion S. Whelan School of Practical Nursing, one of only three hospital-based nursing programs in New York State, was founded in 1956. Since that time, it has graduated over 1,800 nurses. Congratulations to the graduating class of 2021 for their outstanding achievements.

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